We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
12,610 posts
39 reviews
Save Topic
Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

On a TV program that I watched last night (CBC's Marketplace) they talked about the fee that major car rental companies add to the cost of a car rental if you collect airline Frequent Flyer points. I never think to add the one plan that I'm collecting points on when renting a car, but it was certainly a 'heads up' that should I consider doing this in future, to check to see what the rental agency is going to charge for the points and whether it's worthwhile or not.

Since the practice has been going on for a few years now, it's probably something many people are aware of, but just thought I'd mention it for those who aren't.

For example, this is what Avis charges: www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac…

On the car rental invoice, the charge (listed with all those other mysterious charges) is described as "FTP" (Frequent Traveler Program)

Central Islip, New...
Level Contributor
1 post
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

Great post. I am renting tomorrow from Thrifty and I was going to collect US Air points (1500 for a 5-day rental, wow). I just declined to link the programs thanks to your post.

Canada
Level Contributor
9,011 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

I haven't had a chance to watch the "Marketplace" program from last night just yet( watching curling.....yey...Jennifer Jones) It is waiting for me on my PVR though.. However I have been aware of the surcharge for the privilege of collecting miles/points from whatever program ....for some time now.

We don't bother. If I can collect points without accumulating any charges , then sure.....but otherwise, I just don't bother. It's the principle.

I do recall something like it being $2/day up to a certain maximum......So in cases of an extended rental you are not being soaked . It would have to be a "LOT" of miles accumulation for me to part with $2/day on a 3/4 week rental....

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
12,610 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

Pedro; According to Thrifty's website, they charge 95¢ per day (flat rate) for US miles, so wouldn't it be worth it to spend less than $5.00 for 1500 miles? Or maybe I'm overestimating the value of 1500 miles?

Wanderlust, I think most of them are in the range of 75¢ to $1.00 per day - but not sure if all companies have a maximum?

Canada
Level Contributor
9,011 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

So if it is now 75 cents to a Dollar, then it has been scaled back since I first heard of it. Good to know.

Aeroplan is really the only one that would be entice me to accumulate for a small fee.Would it be 500 miles per rental or per day?

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
12,610 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

Aeroplan is the one that I collect on too. They offer points with Avis and Hertz, with varying amounts of points, depending on the offer (promotion/rental period/vehicle). Fee with both: $0.75 per day, up to a maximum of $5.25 per rental, so it would be worthwhile paying that amount if you were collecting ~700 points or more per rental.

hudson valley
Level Contributor
2,415 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

"maybe I'm overestimating the value of 1500 miles? "

Figuring one alternative to collecting miles is 1% cash back from a credit card, I'd figure that 1500 miles is equivalent to at least $15, so it's still a modest profit after paying a fee of $3.75 for the 5 days. If used to book a flight, those miles could be worth about $15 (25,000 miles for a $250 flight) or a lot more. I used 170,000 miles for a pair of first/business class tickets for our upcoming trip in February. I'm not sure what's the best price I might have found, but on united.com it looks like $6000+ is pretty standard. At that price 1500 miles would be worth more than $50, or about 3.5 cents per mile.

For my Avis rental that wasn't booked through United I could get 75 miles per day. At that 3.5 cents per mile I'd net $1.87 per day (2.5*75), or $13.12 for the week. That's not enough to worry about, since I also might end up using the miles for an inexpensive coach fare that's a lot closer to a penny per mile.

@ Wanderlust - Don't know for all companies, but if I booked through United I'd get a 1000 mile bonus, plus 75 miles per day. I presume I'd get the 75 miles regardless, and not booking through United could be a lot cheaper, so I probably would never get that bonus. Maybe if I couldn't find a good deal for a 1 or 2 day rental it would work. Just see what your rental would cost and decide if the miles are worth it.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
12,610 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

Thanks for that explanation Steve - a lot of variables to consider and calculations to be done when determining if the points collection is worthwhile. :)

The other factor when collecting miles is to make sure you use them before the expiry date. Not as much of an issue if you've collected them for free, but annoying if you've signed on for them not realizing that there's a fee, and a chance that you may never use the points.

hudson valley
Level Contributor
2,415 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

Of course the rules vary from one airline to the next, but your miles usually won't expire as long as you add miles to the account or use miles within an 18 month period. No activity for 18 monthsn can, at least theoretically, cause your miles to expire. Buying a single ticket every 17 months will keep the account active. I racked up miles every month by using a Continental miles card for many years, but after the merger with United, Chase refused to waive the annual fee of $95 so I cancelled it when that charge came due this past summer. Many (most?) airlines also have partner programs, so you may be able to keep the account active by something as simple and cheap as ordering a song from iTunes or an e-book from Barnes & Noble.

Check the rules for the program you'd want to be in, and figure out what to do. Be aware that some miles/points may have a fixed value. The rewards from capital One won't expire as long as you have the account, and I assume you can get a card with no annual fee, but those points are strictly worth a penny apiece when used for travel rewards (or cash back; I'll guess they're worth far less when used for merchandise). As I said before, my United miles can be worth a lot more since flights between geographic areas are a fixed number of miles, even though the cash fares can vary considerably. The fixed value of Capital One miles is a bad deal when used for a $500 domestic flight that costs 50,000 miles, but a great deal if you find a $200 flight.

Chicagoland
Level Contributor
20,262 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

It's been a moot point for us. We just look for the cheapest car -- not necessarily any agency that 'partners' with an airline.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
12,610 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Frequent Flyer Program Fee with Car Rentals

ChiSue

I too look for the lowest priced rental that meets our needs. Sometimes the lowest price is through the car rental agency (esp. if you are a member of their loyalty program).

If there is a special offer on points that you are collecting, that also offers a discount on the car rental, it's probably worth looking into e.g.

hawaiianairlines.com/HawaiianMiles/Car-Renta…

Edited: 09 December 2013, 19:30